May 102012
 
The Sabotage

Have you ever had anyone plot to kill you, try to drive you to suicide through bullying orsabotage plan your financial ruin? It’s hard not to take those things personally. It certainly feels personal.

The attack is maliciously planned, often executed over years or even decades. They observe you for your reactions so they can tweak the plan specifically to elicit the most pain.

Deceit lays the foundation for the plan. They lead you to believe that they have your best interests at heart. You might even believe that the malicious person actually loves you and you return that love with a passion. So in the end, the betrayal itself is a horrific revelation.

Most traumatizing of all is the knowledge that you did nothing to deserve the malicious attack. You are innocent of anything that could have created such loathing. This was not reciprocal violence, it was unexpected enmity. This inexplicable malice leaves you feeling unprotected. How can you protect yourself from what you don’t understand? Shame is the feeling of being exposed and powerless. You feel slimed.

slimedThe Shame

In response to shame, you might feel like hiding yourself and cutting yourself off from humanity.  Conversely, in bypassed shame, which is a denial of shame, you feel angry and violated. You may feel the need to lash out and enact revenge.

Your trust is damaged, your confidence eroded.  Shame takes away your power but vengeance restores it, so you want revenge. Until you get revenge you can’t feel complete again because you haven’t been compensated for your loss.  That was the psychopath’s plan.

The real target was always your soul. The psychopath projects his evil on to you. He transfers those feelings of shame, anger, powerlessness, vengeance and rage on to his victim.  An encounter with evil is an encounter with shame and shame is contagious. The psychopath was trying to turn you into him. Like the mythical vampire, those he bites become vengeful like him.

It is this understanding that begins to open the door to freedom from evil: Evil seeks to contaminate.

I was discussing with someone whether psychopaths have shame. She asserted that it doesn’t matter what they feel it only matters how they behave because that is what affects us. Yes, evil is evil, but can our understanding of what motivates evil also change our reaction to it? Once you look behind the veil and understand that the motive for attacking is an attempt to regulate their own dysfunctional emotions, you realize it’s not really about you at all. It no longer feels so much like a narcissistic injury.

Compassion and Empathy Instead of Shame.

The psychopath wants you to feel what he feels. This new perspective changes everything. It opens the door to compassion, despite the grievous harm intended. Compassion is not about forgiveness toward the unrepentant psychopath, nor does it absolve responsibility for his behavior. Instead, compassion detaches us from an ego-centric perspective. Once we stop looking at ourselves and our injury, shame begins to dissolve. Your loss of trust left a hole. Understanding and compassion fills that hole.

It comes in stages. There are some days when we feel more compassionate than others. Some days, compassion itself is painful, because understanding why evil exists doesn’t make it any less repugnant. All it does is help us take it less personally.  Then the rage and the anger dissipate. On bad days, when we are feeling less powerful and most affected by evil in the world, anger comes back. Compassion helps to put it back into perspective.

Jesus, dying on the cross, asked God to “forgive them for they know not what they do.” He understood that He was scapegoated not to appease a vengeful god, but to appease a shamed and vengeful community.

In Girardian Theory, Jesus died an innocent victim to unveil the scapegoat mechanism. Girard tells us that the scapegoat mechanism has to be hidden for it to work. That’s how evil always works, through lies and denial. It has to do it’s dirty work from the inside. It’s a sabotage.

When we open ourselves up to understanding how evil works and what motivates a malicious psychopath, we begin to take away the power of evil. That’s why I care what motivates them. I may not be able to change the psychopath, but through knowledge and the compassion that comes from knowledge, I can change how evil affects me. I can unveil the hidden mechanism and take away its power, the power of sabotage.

In memory of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys band, I’m posting a link to “Sabotage”.

 

Adam died at the age of 47 on May 4th, 2012 after a long battle with cancer. He was a social activist and he had something to say about the treatment of women which directly opposes most attitudes in hip hop music:
From the song “Sure Shot” by The Beastie Boys

I Want To Say a Little Something That’s Long Overdue
The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through
To All The Mothers And Sisters And the Wives And Friends
I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The End

Thank you Adam. I’ll take that personally.

Copyright © 2012-2013 Skylar

  135 Responses to “Psychopaths Sabotage but Compassion Derails their Plans.”

  1. Slim

    That poem is beautiful and so true.

    I am so, so very happy for you that you are married to a lovely man.

    Bless you

    STJ
    xxx

  2. It’s been 2 years, 3 months and 15 days since the last day of my involvement with the P that bestowed himself upon me, and it’s been quite a while since I gained the knowledge and understanding of “how evil works” and in turn, I have found acceptance and forgiveness and I have healed beyond what I could not have imagined, possible, while in the throws of the aftermath. I gained (reestablished) compassion and “unveiled the hidden mechanism and took away its power”, yet, I find that I am still not the person I was, before the evil experience occurred. I still don’t have the self-confidence or surefootedness I once possessed. I have not yet recovered all of my self-esteem. I still find I hide parts of myself to protect my feelings and emotions. It is as if there will always be a residual self-preservation bubble I stay inside. I had existed without the knowledge of how it feels to be affected by evil, for my entire life, pre- psychopath, and it was pure freedom. Freedom from thinking so much. Freedom from having to self-protect. I was so carefree and unaware. I was relaxed and oblivious. I thought that by now, I would be to a point in my recovery where I would feel 100% myself, again, however, in recent weeks, I have begun to wonder if perhaps, that day is never actually going to arrive. And I wonder if this might mean that the “slime” is still on me, to a degree, or if this is just normal, or rather, as normal as it gets, post Psychopath, no matter how much knowledge we gain and how much recovery work we take part, in….

  3. Hi Shane,

    I hear what you are saying, I think. And it struck me while reading it that we never go back to what we were before. We have to come out of any trauma, and be different than before it happened.

    For me that sense of total freedom, obliviousness, and emotional openess was also accompanied by naivete, some ‘wrong’ beliefs, and a lack of boundaries. It felt free, for sure. But it also made me a bit less dimensional, in my current way of thinking. It did feel good, that sense of unlimited possibility; it felt like anything could happen, and it would likely be ‘positive’.

    Now I think that my psyche is more balanced. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I know that not having adequate boundaries makes me vulnerable to abuse. I know that there are limits to most everything.

    Clearly this is my journey I am describing, and it could be different for you. I have been away from my last entanglement for nearly 7 years. I remember feeling more the way you do (if I am understanding it) earlier in my healing. Then those feelings changed and I saw myself not as being overly self-protecting and ‘closed off’, or some such. But, rather, strong, focused, able, stable, and much more safe. I still have my moments of joy. I still get glimpses of the big wide mystery and freedom of my own self. But I am wiser. And it feels good now, not limiting. Not a ‘take away’, but something that I GAINED along the way.

    Our innocence and freedom do feel like they have been taken away. And, in a sense they have. But they can be replaced by other gifts that enrich our lives. Ones that will serve us well.

    Slim

    • Hi Slim, Thank you for sharing what you have experienced, and where you are, now. It is very helpful to me to know that there is more recovery for me, down the road. Thank you, also, for your words of wisdom.

      So far, I can tell that the experience has made me much stronger, more enlightened, aware, grateful and empowered. I never would have known that I possess the kind of strength it takes to fight through that kind of pain, anger, humiliation, sadness, realizations, triggers, flashbacks, etc, if I hadn’t had the experience. As time goes on, I hope to become more balanced and carefree. The description you’ve shared is helpful for sustaining my hope for continued recovery, and it gives me a broader perspective of sorts.

      Thank you for pointing out that “the things that have been taken away, can be replaced with other gifts that enrich our lives”. I have just reentered college. I am reinventing myself and my life and and it has already begun to feel like one of those enriching replacements. I feel as though it is restoring me.

      Thank you very much for writing –

      Shane

  4. Shane,
    I think that the journey toward even more compassion continues for our entire lives. As Slim said, we become more “dimensional”. I think that dimension comes from empathy, understanding and connection with others.

    I also feel like I’ve acquired more faith through this journey — faith in the universe. Whereas before I had more faith in myself.

    It really is heartening to know that the most horrible experience, a confrontation with evil, can lead to growth and even more fulfillment, for those of us that survive.

  5. Jill aka Darwinsmom

    Shane,

    I refer to what you are describing as the path where you used to be innocent, someone who didn’t know really what evil really is like. But once you met it, you lose that innocense. But you do get something in place for it. I call that “purity”: self-validation (which helps both against lovebombs but also garbage-dumps), boundaries, compassion, and a clarity. Sure, those beliefs we used to have about people in general, how open we could be and trusting people without questions are beautiful. But they also got us into dangerous, traumatic and ruinous situations. They’re myths, but not reality. I remember how I first thought of that as a loss, but along the way I started to experience it as gift. No, I don’t trust people at first hand anymore. I’m not as freecaring and open anymore to everybody. But I still trust people, still am freecaring and open… but with those who are worthy, people I can trust to care. And when I know I can trust people to care these days, I’m 100% sure I can. Sure, sometimes they might hurt me, or I can disagree with them. But because I can see the difference between those who want to use me for their own agenda and those who genuinely do care about, even if we disagree, I am sure of their goodness in a way they sometimes themselves do not yet even believe in their goodness. I appreciate these trustworthy people hundredfold now. I don’t think I would have ever appreciated them as much as I do now, without having been involved with the psychopath. And because it is so much clearer to me now who I can trust, I am open to them in a way I never used to be, before. I can actually allow myself to be vulnerable around and with these good people, in a way I never was before. And sure, sometimes there are misunderstandings, and that stings after being so vulnerable around them, but that’s ok.

    The point I’m trying to make is that in the past we shared with everybody, but that also made what we shared kindof shallow. But when you stop sharing with particular people whom you have no reason to trust yet, you end up sharing in a more profound way with those whom you can trust, and in that way you’ll discover new depths and layers of yourself.

    • Jill,

      Depth.

      This is one of the greatest gifts I feel I received after opening my eyes to the reality of users and abusers.

      I also was the most bitter, in the initial stages of waking up, at my loss of innocence, as I was under the misguided belief that THIS was what made me deep. That my trusting everyone somehow made me a more spiritual person. It was a personal myth I really held tight to. My being wedded to this personal mythology was like wearing a target on my back for any predator looking for an easy mark.

      It’s interesting that from my new perspective I see how crippled I was by many of my beliefs, and that in some cases the opposite of what I held to turned out to be true. In this case having boundaries, compassion (for self, and other’s), and clarity (as opposed to a kind of relationship to truth that was always based on context) has proven to provide me a much deeper experience of connection and nurturing.

      I remember a dear friend (who is still a friend) telling me she didn’t understand exactly why but she felt insulted that I included her in the definition of friend, when I had a relationship with someone she didn’t think was good for me. She apologized, but told me she thought I lacked proper discernment. At the time I was confused by this and spent a bit of time spinning about it. Now I understand. She knew, intuitively, that he was a bad man. And, she knew I was equating, or even placing more importance, on him; and it hurt her to think I was being as shallow about my relationship with her. She dumped me for awhile because of this.

      I am glad she did, because the hurt of it contributed to my making new choices.

      • Jill aka Darwinsmom

        It seems paradoxical, no? I am certain that some people are convinced I’m more black/white and shallow because I “judge” manipulative/dishonest people and drop them like a hot coal at once. If I see any hint of someone misrepresenting themselves they’re out. And yet the reality is that by not losing my time and energy over what are lies and falsehoods anyway, I have more time and energy for the honest people, and yes, my feelings for them have a huge depth.

        In theory our feelings are without limit: if you can love (in its most general use, including kin, children, friends, pets, partner), there is no actual boundary to how many or how deeply you love other human beings (and/or animals). And if you love two human beings, it’s not as if each of them only gets half of your empathic love. BUT there is a limitation on the amount of energy we have and on the amount of time. There are only 24 hours in a day, and a third of this time we need to rest, at least another third to work, etc. And manipulative deceivers simply demand so much time and energy by making you run in circles and errands for them that you have nothing left anymore for anyone or anything else. Not to mention that all those feelings are wasted on someone who just is irrelevant, because they are not who they pretend to be.

      • Slim,
        your friend was a true friend. How lucky you are to have met someone who is discerning and helped you to become that way too, even though she knew it could have cost her your friendship in the long run.

        Thanks for sharing that example, it made me think about how strong my own backbone is (or not). Hopefully, next time I am in a situation like that, I’ll remember your story and follow that example.

        Jill,
        yep, people might think we are judgmental but the truth is, we just have better insight into human behavior and motivations. Disordered, selfish behavior doesn’t stand alone. It is usually accompanied by more selfish behavior. The disordered person is not unaware of their selfishness, but they do count on us to feel guilty for judging them.

        • Exactly, Jill/Skylar. They take so much of our energy/time we have nearly nothing left for ourselves, let alone our other friends. This old friend was sick of it, as I had been entangled with multiple users and abusers, and she just couldn’t stand to watch it, or to be disrespected by my lack of attention to our friendship.

          I am in the same place as you now. I don’t go for it after the first whiff of deceit or awkwardness. Not enough time in the world for me to waste one more second on someone who gives me the creeps, in any way. I am also met by some less aware persons with disbelief at how quickly I judge, and how quickly I step away. I honestly don’t care. I feel better, my relationships are deeper and more solid, my life more stable and happy.

          I work in hospice and I find that many of the nurses I work with are particularly struck by my boundaries with pt’s and family’s who are manipulative, etc….some of them are so naive and over identified with their roles as ‘helpers’ that they cannot comprehend having a boundary with anyone dying or grieving. They get torn to shreds by the disordered folks we run into. It is a very interesting dynamic to be in a ‘caring’ profession, and also be aware of personality disorders and find a way to work with them, or their family members, at end of life.

          I had one highly disordered elderly woman who screamed at me the last hours of her life that I was killing her, that I was evil, that I was hurting her; while she pulled my hair, pinched me, and kicked at me while I tried to keep her comfortable. We knew she was disordered from her pattern of behavior (over a two year period), and from the detailed history of behavior we got from her daughter, who herself called her a malignant narcissist. Here is a woman, with her last breath, BLAMING me for her death, and projecting her own behavior onto me.

          I ramble….Slim

  6. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with me, skylar and Jill. What it makes me think, is that I have just not gotten as far in the recovery process, as of, yet. I mean, I experience some of the same things for myself, but I still have a ways to go, I believe… especially in terms of the trust aspect. I continue to gain more and more trust, as time goes on, and I hope to get to a place where I can trust in myself/my judgement enough, that my ability to trust others will out-weigh my excessive need to self-preserve. I don’t want to exist in this way, any longer. Thank you for your encouragement!

  7. Jill aka Darwinsmom

    Shane,

    I don’t think you should push yourself to trust others. What does help is the growing trust in yourself to know and respond well when you cannot trust someone. That takes experience and thus time. Once you trust yourself to be able to handle someone you cannot trust (go no contact, not making excuses for them, noticing the red flags, …) there automatically comes more room in being able to trust those whom you can trust.

  8. I think what confuses us is whether we should look at character disorders as if they are on a spectrum or if it’s “black and white”.
    The truth is, they’re BOTH and that’s why they’re confusing.

    Yes, most people are on a spectrum of all the many things that can affect us, emotionally, mentally, physically.
    Whether we are discussing the cluster b disorders or something else, these labels create a black and white mentality, as if we either have it or we don’t. Yet the labels are actually referring to traits that can be observed in varying degrees.

    So for example, if I notice someone lies a lot, that is a red flag for narcissism. but how can I judge the DEGREE of narcissism? Is this a serial killer or is she just a controlling manipulator?

    The answer is, it doesn’t matter. We know that we have to implement boundaries around people who feel the need to lie as a way of life. The same goes for any red flag. The “TRUST” we need to gain is trusting ourselves to implement those boundaries no matter what DEGREE of red flags we are noticing. It’s just good emotional hygiene.

    After we’ve implemented those emotional boundaries, we can sit back and observe, in order to safely make further assessments about that person. The key is to make sure that we maintain the emotional boundaries, this is hard. Observing the cluster b person, CAN drag us into the drama. It’s hard to be vigilant.

    • Hi Skylar,

      I really get what you are saying, and I have implemented no contact on the first lie, a number of times. But I have not had the ‘opportunity’ to practice keeping my boundaries with someone who has exhibted a red flag. I am still in the black and white place. That ‘good bucket, bad bucket’ place. One strike, yer out. At this point that feels safest for me.

      I imagine it would take a lot of mindfulness and a kind of slowing down…in order to observe without getting sucked in.

      On a side note: Anyone watched Blue Jasmine? I did, at a friend’s house. Though I would not opt to watch a Woody Allen movie, as I find him to produce movies that are mysoginistic, lacking insight, and produce cog. dissonance in the watcher. But this time I watched his movie with the idea that he is a pedophile, and likely disordered. Boy, did that make the movie plot line and the development of the characters make sense. He hated the women characters, and forgave the bad boys. Fascinating.

    • Slim,
      Blue Jasmine sounds like a good movie to watch for insight into Woody Allen’s perverse mind.
      This vanity fair review was interesting but the comments below were even more revealing.
      http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2013/07/movie-review-blue-jasmine-woody-allen

      The disordered people that I’ve encountered lately, like to engage in drama with each other. Then they each attempt to draw me in to their side and against the other. Though they all use slightly different tactics to make the others look guilty, there is one tactic that they’ve all used: They tell me what good people they are and how much compassion they have for their opponent. This is their attempt to make the other person look guilty.

      Actually, they all look rather guilty to me because I see the red flags: slander, keeping secrets, drama, resentment, accusations. At first, I was determined not to get drawn in, then I felt the pull to take sides as one or the other tried to manipulate me too. It really is unhealthy to associate with the cluster b’s but sometimes the only boundary we have at our disposal, is our own emotional boundary.

      • Skylar,

        That was a good review…but the comments were even better. I think I would tend to agree that the movie was an internal dialogue, and a dig at his ex-wife and the dtr. he abused, a way of dismissing them as ‘crazy’. In perfect sociopath style he is discrediting everyone who has ever tried to ‘out’ him. Holding an eternal grudge, accepting absolutely no responsibility, and blaming the abused. Even though the main character is flawed, and living in a strange bubble of priviledge, she is still the victim of gaslighting, abuse, manipulation, and devaluing. It makes it no less painful to watch, though she isn’t an icon of virtue.

        Isn’t that also just the way it is with these types. If we aren’t ‘perfect’, it is just another smoke screen to cover them, and blame us for their lies and behaviors.

  9. This article helped me immensely when I re-read it late last year. It was exactly what I needed to read at the time and I would like to express my gratitude to you for sharing this.

    • You’re very welcome, Kaz.
      It’s always a struggle to not feel the resentment that the spaths WANT us to feel. Luckily, we have compassion and that’s what saves us.

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